The Freak Observer
Truth be told, I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this book. When I finshed it, I thought “hmm...that was a good book”, but when I sat down to write this review, I can’t really say what it was about the book that I liked. Most of the time I just found the main character, Loa to be sort of blah. Blah about her life, blah about the death of her sister, blah about the death of her friend, and blah about where things were going for her. But it’s possible that the reason I liked the book is because it wasn’t an over the top book. It was a book that was honest about every day life without having a huge, over the top storyline to it. No vampires, no Necromancers, just ordinary life and the good and bad that comes along with being ordinary.
Loa Lingren isn’t what you would call a stand out personality. In fact, because she has spent the last few years helping her parents raise her handicapped sister Asta, she has had very little social life. When Asta dies, Loa experiences an odd form of PTSD – she sees death coming for her or has vivid flashbacks of her friend dying every time she goes to sleep. So instead of sleeping, she does everything she can to stay awake. And her parents aren’t in any better shape than she is. The book follows Loa as she tries to figure out who she is without Asta.
As I said, it's hard for me to define what I liked about the book. But maybe I liked the fact that Loa was so blah, because after going through everything she did, being blah was the safest response Loa could have. Loa is real, and while her situation might not be average/every day, her reactions to trauma are normal (I think). I'm sure that we have all experienced traumatic events in our lives that cause us to respond to the world in a very blah manner. And I appreciate that Woolston didn't turn Loa's disasterous life into an after-school-special-esque book. Because let's face it, life is not an after school special, and it's nice to read books every once in a while that help us remember that and validate our feelings of loss and confusion after a trauma*. I'm positive there are people, teenagers especially, who will read The Freak Observer and relate to Loa and her blah-ness. And being able to relate to a character - fictional or not - will help with the healing process.
*Having said that, I'd like to add that it's also really nice to read books that are after-school-special-esque too. Sometimes we need the hope of a picture perfect ending complete with smiles and group hugs.